What Is The Best Scan For Liver Disease?
Advancement in imaging modalities has persistently proved their efficiency in diagnosing liver diseases that affect nearly one out of five Indians daily. Your doctor may recommend a Computed Tomography (CT) scan or ultrasound as the primary test.
But, for complex cases, like those affecting the soft tissues, CT or ultrasound may not secure a clear finding. In that case, your doctor is likely to go for an MRI scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging to look into your liver anatomy.
Hence, what is the best scan for liver disease depends on how accurately an imaging modality can screen the very disease!
This article shall address the possible situations when and why your doctor may recommend a scan type as appropriate!
How Efficient Is A CT Scan In Diagnosing Liver Diseases?
A CT is one of the most efficient diagnostic modalities for detecting diverse liver diseases, from liver injuries and bleeding to tumors. It is preliminary test doctors recommend, as it is proven, easily accessible, quick, and non-invasive. This painless scan involves the use of multiple X-ray beams to screen your liver from multiple angles.
A CT scan serves efficiently during emergencies, especially traumatic liver injury or liver failure. Doctors prominently pick CT scans for diagnosing jaundice. A CT scan report can show whether the jaundice is obstructive or non-obstructive. The CT report can reveal whether the obstruction is lithiasis.
CT scans help doctors visualize the collection of pus or fluids in your liver, called liver abscesses. In fact, CT modalities are superior to other imaging scams in diagnosing hepatic metastases or cancer spreading to your liver from other anatomical parts. According to a few studies, a CT is 80 to 90 percent sensitive in diagnosing hepatic metastases; and about 99% specific.
Various advanced CT modalities, like dual-energy CT, are here to visualize the liver tissues for patients with metallic implants who cannot pursue an MRI. This method can help doctors distinguish uric acid crystals, calcium crystals, or iodine in your liver from the soft tissues.
But, all CT procedures, be they traditional or advanced, involve radiation exposure and are therefore unsafe for many, especially pregnant women, children, and patients with some allergies. Due to the risk of further health complications and side effects, your doctor may prefer other tests.
Why Do Doctors Prefer Ultrasound Scan For Liver Diseases?
Ultrasound is also a plausible name to come up in a discussion regarding what is the best scan for liver diseases. It is because an ultrasound acts as a safer alternative to a CT, although not as accurate as a CT in all cases! It is a quick and non-invasive method, where sound waves lay used to screen your liver condition.
An ultrasound can detect scarring in your liver, fatty deposits if any, and conditions where your liver becomes hard. In short, it can detect any structural changes in your liver, even if an additional mass or lesions grow therein. Researchers note that an ultrasound can detect lesions less than 3 cm in diameter with an 80% specificity.
Perhaps, ultrasounds are great modalities to identify blood vessel malformations and identify lumps in the blood vessels supplying blood to your liver ( called Haemangioma). Studies show that ultrasound imaging is 94.1% sensitivity in detecting haemangioma.
Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound to look for pregnancy-related liver abnormalities, be it a blocked bile flow or a liver dysfunction due to pregnancy, called pre-eclampsia. Besides, ultrasound can help doctors diagnose alcohol-related liver and determine the presence of liver enzymes.
When Is An MRI Scan Essential For Liver Disease Screening?
At times, your doctor may recommend an MRI screening of your liver as the primary test in case your symptoms indicate complications. But, being expensive and not always accessible, doctors ask if CT or Ultrasound fails to diagnose your liver disease. It is a safe, radiation-less non-invasive, and painless scan used in healthcare centers.
Typically, an MRI uses magnets and radio waves to screen your liver tissues in depth. This helps doctors secure an early diagnosis of a complex liver condition like cancer or cirrhosis. According to research, an MRI holds 84% sensitivity and 88% specificity in liver cirrhosis screening.
An MRI is essential for your doctor to guide a biopsy correctly. However, an MRI scan itself rules out the need for unnecessary biopsies. Your doctor, on the other note, can determine the cancer’s size, shape, location, and stages. It is one of the reasons why an MRI gets recognized as one of the best scans for liver disease.
MRI scans stand requisite for fetching superior imaging in case of fatty liver diseases or liver cancer. Studies show that an MRI is accurate in 75% of fatty-liver cases. An MRI is even superior in sensitivity than a CT for quantifying liver steatosis or non-alcoholic fatty liver which may lead to liver injury or fibrosis.
Doctors use MRI scans to detect non-cancerous lesions present in your liver and track their progress. Your doctor may want to measure the blood supply to the liver and track if a blood clot or lump got carried away from the vascular system to the liver.
The latest MRI technique can diagnose hepatic fibrosis, your liver’s wound-healing response to repeated injuries caused by diseases like Hepatitis B and C, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or alcohol abuse. An MRI detects it even when small! National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBl) states that an MRI holds 89.6% accuracy in fibrosis screening.
But MRIs may take 90 minutes to create clear, accurate cross-sectional images of your liver. In the meantime, the semi-enclosed space inside the scanner may make you anxious, especially with those loud crackling noises coming from the machine. So, if you have claustrophobic tendencies, make sure you consult your doctor.
So, what did you learn? What is the best scan for liver disease? The answer is subjective indeed! Not everyone can get exposed to radiation, not everyone can afford an MRI, and not always an ultrasound ensures superior image clarity. You need to consult with a doctor.
Your doctor may ask you about the symptoms, your medical history, family’s medical history; and further examine your physical condition. That is when he can decide which scan can serve best and thereby recommend it.
If your doctor recommends an MRI in Chandigarh to diagnose liver diseases, you can book your test from the best radiology labs in Chandigarh at a discounted price at www.mrichandigarh.com. But please make sure you have your doctor’s recommendation!